One of the top tours to do in Iceland is the Golden Circle Tour. There are various tour companies which does this tour (and some of them will add extra stops to various places in the area so do some research first) but the tour I choose was with Reykjavik Excursions. I like to point out that I fully paid for this tour and was not working with the company. This post is about my experience, what I saw and hopefully will convince my readers to take this tour if looking to do a day trip from Reykjavik.
The Golden Circle tour I did lasts around eight hours and the tour bus picks up tourists at various pick up locations (which can be found on the website here). I usually would prefer to rent a car and drive out to these sort of places (or sometimes hike them) but as it was the middle of winter, Olga and I wanted to splash the cash and let someone else do all the hard work.
The first point on the tour was Skálholt. Now this stop is not always included in this tour but we were fortunate to make this stop before all the major stops of the tour. Skálholt is a small historical town on the island as this is where Iceland’s first bishop lived and the first school was operating. By 1200AD, Iceland’s first town had the largest population in the country which was around 120 people. On the tour we saw the remarkable cathedral at sunrise (which was around 10.30 when we traveled in the winter). The second point was just up the road at Fridheimar Greenhouse. This is where the locals grow food like tomatoes in greenhouses with the aid of geothermal heat.
Then the tour really hots up. The Geysir Geothermal Area in the Haukadalur Valley. This is where we got to see many hot pools and clay pots with steam rising out them. I even saw that the soil was coloured and not the usual black or brown because of the minerals of the earth in this area. The main bad-boy to see is the Great Geysir but it doesn’t erupt that often. There is another geyser next to it called Strokkur and that erupts around every ten minutes. Then it does erupt, water gets thrown up to forty meters (132ft) into the air. Just walking around the area, looking at the landscape, seeing all the steam, is something I have never seen before on Earth and will never forget my time in the Haukadalur Valley.
Also on the tour is one of Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls, Gullfoss. Located in the depths of a valley, the water gushes down from a height of thirty-two meters (105ft). When we were there we were fortunate enough to see the waterfalls producing rainbows that are thrown from its spray (the weather was temperamental the day we came, clear skies followed by clouds moving swiftly in, this was happening quite often but when the sun was seen, rainbows were made, all we needed was a unicorn to fly on by). I think Gullfoss has to be one of my favourite waterfalls in the world for it’s dramatic effect. I seen Niagara in Canada, the Ventas Rumba in Latvia and Krimml in Austria but this waterfall was a totally different ball game. It was a fantastic feeling to stand so close to it, to feel and hear what the Gullfoss has to offer. It was unbelievable.
Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park is an amazing place to check out, mostly for it’s natural wonders and is classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However it’s not because of it’s natural beauty that the area is on the UNESCO list, it’s because of the history for the first settlers who came to the island and the area around 800AD. The first people to come here were basically people who refused to ‘bend a knee’ to the new King of Norway when they were living in Norway. Around 930AD, the people decided that a government should be formed to sort out disputes on the island. The government would use Þingvellir as the meeting place. The parliament was a success however since 1844, the parliament is now located in the capital. Another fact is that because of all of this, the Icelandic parliament is the oldest running parliament in the world.
Seriously, the day I did the Golden Circle tour was one of the most amazing experiences I have done in Iceland and wished I could stay here longer and checked out some of the smaller places nearby. I would totally recommend anyone to go onto this tour and the only bit of advice I can give, make sure you wear the right footwear and wrap up warm, no matter what time of the year it is!
As mentioned earlier, please note that while I was not working with Reykjavik Excursions as I checked out the Golden Circle tour, my review and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. I value my readers too much to lie to you. My blog would be nothing without you and your continued support!